Dogs can bring happiness, love, laughter … and sometimes strange infections to humans. For example: a woman in Israel was diagnosed with a bacterial infection, which she contracted from an innocent puppy who simply licked the owner's feet.
An 86-year-old woman was admitted to hospital with a high fever, nausea, vomiting and pain in her right leg. She was confined to a wheelchair and being treated for diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, according to a report published in December in the Journal of Emergency Medicine.
At the hospital, doctors discovered that she had a high fever, palpitations and signs of cellulite on her right ankle and lower leg. Cellulite is a common skin infection caused by bacteria that can lead to skin redness, swelling, and soreness. Doctors also noticed that the woman had cuts and abrasions on the skin between her toes.
Her blood test showed that she was infected with Streptococcus canis, a bacterium that can be transmitted to humans from other animals, especially dogs. However, human infections with S. canis are generally very rare, and several cases have been reported in the medical literature, the authors reported.
While cellulite is common in humans, it is usually caused by bacteria other than S. canis, said lead author Dr. Zohar Lederman, who was a physician at Assuta Samson University Hospital in Israel at the time.
At the same time, the woman noted that she had several puppies who often licked her legs, the message says. It is "highly likely" that the puppies infected her with this bacterium, but this is not certain because the authors did not take samples from pets, Lederman said.
This is very unusual for these bacteria. In order for a person to be infected, bacteria must access a layer deeper than the epidermis. "Most often this is due to dry skin, which creates minor damage," he said. Moreover, in this case, the woman not only had cracks in her skin, but also a weakened immune system due to the medications she was taking for rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, her puppies carried the bacteria by accident, he added.
A couple of days after being treated with antibiotics, the woman's condition improved and she was discharged “in stable conditions,” Lederman said. Researchers published this case study to raise awareness of potential diseases that must pass from animals to humans. "Doctors should work with veterinarians in caring for people and animals," they wrote.